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  Pork barrelling is a single-member electorate problem


Pork barrelling is a term borrowed from long-standing United States political practice.

As that hyperlink shows, it is associated with electoral systems where candidates likely to form part of a government who are standing in closely-contested 'marginal' electoral districts seek electoral benefit by promising substantial spending if they are elected and their party becomes the government party. Most districts are not marginal, instead being safe for one of the two major electoral groupings in such contests.

By contrast, a proportional representation system using the Single Transferable Vote in a multi-member electoral district, such as the Hare-Clark system used to elect the lower houses in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, will nearly always elect members of each of those groupings in each district, with the possibility of a minority of the seats in the district being won by one or more candidates that are independents or are from minor parties.

That means there are no electoral districts where the result is easily predicted, so parties campaigning are far more likely to spread their generous spending promises fairly equally over all districts, rather than targeting just a few for affordable, but pivotal electoral outcomes.

Australia's 2016 federal election produced, in the electorate of Indi, what has been claimed to be a blatant example of pork barrelling.

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